There was no large fanfare but there should have been as a result of the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) recent recommendations that require new health insurance plans to provide preventive services at no cost to the patient. That’s right. No cost. Oh, how women needed this victory in the midst of these trying, turbulent times of economic scarcity. You will no longer have to go to a healthcare provider’s office and turn your pockets inside out or empty your pocketbook on the table before someone will give you a PAP smear or an annual exam. We all know the old adage: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Well, our healthcare policy makers actually believe this. This policy represents change; change that will make a difference in the quality of your life. And your daughter’s life. And your grandmother’s life. It will help your bank account when you no longer have to write that check for preventive services that could prolong and add to the quality of your life. What brought about this change? The Affordable Care Act. Yes, that same healthcare act that has been politically vilified and called everything except a child of God. That Act.

On August 1, 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services, under the leadership of Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, issued a press release outlining these new, historic benefits that will be implemented on August 1, 2012. “The Affordable Care Act helps stop health problems before they start,” said Sebelius. We all need to stand up and cheer.
What will these new services include at no cost to the patient?

• FDA approved birth control methods
• One annual well-woman exam
• Intimate partner violence screening
• HPV cervical screening and counseling
• Gestational diabetes for pregnant women
• Breast feeding support, including counseling and supplies
• HIV screening and
• Sexual infections counseling
• Mammograms
• Colonscopies

The compassion of our healthcare system appears to be returning. It’s been long, long, overdue.
For more information regarding expanded women’s preventive health services, please visit: http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/womensprevention08012011a.html